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Events

‘Building Better Societies:
Promoting social justice in a world falling apart’
with Rowland Atkinson, Lisa Mckenzie and Simon Winlow
Wednesday 22nd November, 7pm
Read more...

‘The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation’ with Ian Cobain in conversation with Wail Qasim 
Monday 27th November, 7pm
Read more...

‘How the Establishment Lost Control’ with Chris Nineham
Wednesday 29th November, 7pm
Read more...

‘You Should Come with Me Now: Stories of Ghosts’ M. John Harrison in conversation with Lara Pawson
Thursday 30th November, 7pm
Read more...

‘The Hippy Trail: A History’ with Sharif Gemie
Wednesday 6th December, 7pm
Read more...

‘The Mainstreaming Of The Far-Right’ with Julia Ebner and Paul Stocker
Thursday 7th December, 7pm
Read more...

‘The Digital Critic:
Literary Culture Online’
with Houman Barekat, Joanna Walsh and Robert Barry
Wednesday 10th January, 7pm
Read more...

‘The New Poverty’
with Stephen Armstrong
Wednesday 17th January, 7pm
Read more...

‘Tear Gas:
From the Battlefields of WWI to the Streets of Today’
with Anna Feigenbaum
Wednesday 31st January, 7pm
Read more...

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IN-STORE EVENTS at HOUSMANS

We regularly have a variety of events in the shop, and are always welcome for suggestions from authors, artists and campaigners who want to use the shop for evening events. Past events include talks, book signings, film screenings, art exhibitions and musical performances.

Click here for an archive; which includes a number of selected filmed highlights, of our previous events. Also, you can view video from some special events here.

Click the following button if you would like to directly add our events to your smartphone or desktop calendar using Google Calendar.

‘Building Better Societies:
Promoting social justice in a world falling apart’
with Rowland Atkinson, Lisa Mckenzie and Simon Winlow
Wednesday 22nd November, 7pm
Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase

What would it take to make society better? For the majority, conditions are getting worse and this will continue unless strong action is taken. This book offers a wide range of expert contributors outlining what might help to make better societies and which mechanisms, interventions and evidence are needed when we think about a better society.

The book looks at what is needed to prevent the proliferation of harm and the gradual collapse of civil society. It argues that social scientists need to cast aside their commitment to the established order and its ideological support systems, look ahead at the likely outcomes of various interventions and move to the forefront of informed political debate.

 Providing practical steps and policy programmes, this is ideal for academics and students across a wide range of social science fields and those interested in social inequality.

About the speakers

Rowland Atkinson is Chair in Inclusive Societies, in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield. His research crosses urban studies, sociology, geography and criminology and looks at different forms of exclusion and inequality. Among other interests his work has focused on questions of wealth and poverty in societies and the often invisible harms generated by social inequality in urban settings. Rowland lead the first study of gated communities in the UK as well as the first key study of the rich in London and continues to work to connect the lives of the affluent to social problems, he is the author of (with Sarah Blandy) Domestic Fortress.

Dr Lisa Mckenzie is a research fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science, working as part of the Great British Class Survey Team. Her previous research focused upon the poor working class and her current research interests relate to the precarious and vulnerable nature of particular groups in our society through insecure housing, work, social benefits, health care, and education. She is author of the bestselling Getting by: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain (Policy Press, 2015).

Professor Simon Winlow is at the Centre for Realist Criminology, Teesside University. He has research expertise in both sociology and criminology and has published widely on violence, criminal markets and cultures, and social, political and economic change.

‘The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation’
with Ian Cobain in conversation with Wail Qasim

Monday 27th November, 7pm
Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase

From the birth of the first Official Secrets Act in 1889 to present times, investigative journalist Ian Cobain takes a look at the history of the British Government’s clandestine bureaucracy and its political impact on the nation.

In 1889, the first Official Secrets Act was passed, creating offences of 'disclosure of information' and 'breach of official trust'. It limited and monitored what the public could, and should, be told. Since then a culture of secrecy has flourished.

As successive governments have been selective about what they choose to share with the public, we have been left with a distorted and incomplete understanding not only of the workings of the state but of our nation's culture and its past.

In this important book, Ian Cobain offers a fresh appraisal of some of the key moments in British history since the end of WWII, including: the measures taken to conceal the existence of Bletchley Park and its successor, GCHQ, for three decades; the unreported wars fought during the 1960s and 1970s; the hidden links with terrorist cells during the Troubles; the sometimes opaque workings of the criminal justice system; the state's peacetime surveillance techniques; and the convenient loopholes in the Freedom of Information Act.

Drawing on previously unseen material and rigorous research, The History Thieves reveals how a complex bureaucratic machine has grown up around the British state, allowing governments to evade accountability and their secrets to be buried.

Reviews

‘[A] terrifying account of politics and cover-ups since the 1889 Official Secrets Act. Spin? This is dizzying, disturbing stuff’- Jeanette Winterson, Best Books of 2016

‘A meticulously researched, eye-opening triumph. Essential reading in the age of Snowden and Assange’ - Charles Cumming

‘An engrossing account of how government officials burned the records of imperial rule as the British empire came to an end’ - Ian Jack

‘Cobain gives an authoritative and accessible account of the lengths the British authorities have gone to in order to keep secrets from its citizens since the nineteenth century’ - Samantha Newberry

‘Cobain's easy prose turns potentially dry subject matter into an intriguing set of stories... Cobain punches holes in the idea that Britain is an open, transparent country and he worries about the growing trend towards 'closed procedures' in the justice system. While concerned with protecting civil liberties and holding government to account, this book also questions the core of national identity. If so much of their history is concealed, the British are not who they think they are’- Hazel Healy

‘[The History Thieves] sets out the history of state secrecy and its vital importance in shaping the public image of the nation... Cobain's book demonstrates the function that secrecy played in allowing the British state to maintain a veneer of accountability and transparency. To peek behind this veneer is to see the atrocities committed during wars of decolonization, the secret deployment of British troops in various theaters of war, the colonial files hidden in secret archives, the cover-up of state-sponsored death squads in Northern Ireland, and the obstruction of justice through secret courts’ - Rosa Gilbert

About the Author

Ian Cobain was born in Liverpool in 1960. He has been a journalist since the early 1980s and is currently an investigative reporter with the Guardian. His inquiries into the UK's involvement in torture since 9/11 have won a number of major awards, including the Martha Gellhorn Prize and the Paul Foot Award for investigative journalism. He has also won several Amnesty International media awards. Cobain lives in London with his wife and two children.

‘How the Establishment Lost Control’ with Chris Nineham
Wednesday 29th November, 7pm
Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase

The post-war consensus is breaking up. The general election result, the 2014 Scottish referendum and the Brexit vote all testify to an insurgent mood amongst swathes of the population. This book attempts to explain these dramatic developments and to show how they question received notions about politics, history and how change happens.

Reviews
A highly readable, fast moving account of how the British establishment have lost the plot. Chris Nineham reveals, often using their own words, that they know they have, but they would rather you didn’t read it here... ~ Danny Dorling, author of Inequality and the 1%

An important and perceptive history of post-war Britain and the effects of neoliberalism. A critique with a robust philosophical basis, it explains where the inequalities that led us to this point originated, how they are being perpetuated, and how they can be deconstructed. Essential reading for anybody wishing to understand the state we’re in. ~ Brian Eno

The sub-text of this book is 'Against Pessimism'. Chris Nineham gives us a guide to the fractures and fault-lines in the establishment, reminding us how often our rulers don't get their own way, and how the Left can make the most of these weaknesses. ~ Mike Rosen

About the Author

Chris Nineham is a vice chair of the Stop the War Coalition. He was one of the organisers of the two million February 15th, 2003 demonstration in London and central to the international co-ordination that led to the protests going global. He was also an international organiser of the Genoa G8 protests in 2001 and played a central role in the co-ordination of the European Social Forum in Florence (2002), Paris (2003) and London (2004) as well as being a co-ordinator of the WSF assembly of social movements.

LOCOMOTRIX EVENT
‘You Should Come with Me Now: Stories of Ghosts’
M. John Harrison in conversation with Lara Pawson
Thursday 30th November, 7pm
Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase

Pre-book tickets here


The Locomotrix is excited to present New Wave pioneer M. John Harrison in conversation with author and journalist Lara Pawson on the publication of his first collection of short fiction in over 15 years, You Should Come with Me Now: Stories of Ghosts.

Acclaimed by writers such as Neil Gaiman, Angela Carter, Clive Barker, William Gibson and Iain Banks (who called him ‘a Zen master of prose’), M. John Harrison is the winner of numerous awards, including the Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K Dick, and James Tiptree Junior Awards, as well as the Boardman Tasker Prize and Tahtivaeltara Award. 

Considered one of the most important stylists of modern fantasy and science fiction working today, and a pioneer of the New Wave, M. John Harrison is a cartographer of the liminal. His work sits at the boundaries between genres – horror and science fiction, fantasy and travel writing – just as his characters occupy the no man’s land between the spatial and the spiritual.

Here, in his first collection of short fiction for over 15 years, we see the master of the New Wave present unsettling visions of contemporary urban Britain, as well as supernatural parodies of the wider, political landscape. From gelatinous aliens taking over the world’s financial capitals, to the middle-aged man escaping the pressures of fatherhood by going missing in his own house… these are weird stories for weird times.

Reviews

‘M. John Harrison moves elegantly, passionately, from genre to genre, his prose lucent and wise, his stories published as SF or as fantasy, as horror or as mainstream fiction. In each playing field, he wins awards, and makes it look so easy. His prose is deceptively simple, each word considered and placed where it can sink deepest and do the most damage.’ - Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods

‘With an austere and deeply moving humanism, M. John Harrison proves what only those crippled by respectability still doubt – that science fiction can be literature, of the very greatest kind.’ - China Miéville, author of Perdido Street Station

‘M. John Harrison's sentences have the power to leave the world about you unsteadied; glowing and perforated in strange ways.’ - Robert Macfarlane, author of Landmarks

‘Slippery, subversive, these stories mix the eerie and familiar into beguiling, alarming marvels.’  - Olivia Laing, author of The Lonely City

'Harrison maps a rediscovered fictional hinterland, one tucked behind the glossier edifices of modernity and genre with views down alleyways into pubs and flats where Patrick Hamilton glares balefully at J. G. Ballard.' - Will Eaves, author of This is Paradise

About the Speakers

M. John Harrison is regarded by many as a figurehead of modern fantasy and science fiction. He is the author of eleven novels (including In Viriconium, The Course of the Heart and Light), as well as four previous short story collections, two graphic novels, and collaborations with Jane Johnson, writing as Gabriel King. He won the Boardman Tasker Award for Climbers (1989), the James Tiptree Jr Award for Light (2002) and the Arthur C Clark Award for Nova Swing (2007). He reviews fiction for the Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement, and lives in Shropshire.

Lara Pawson is a freelance writer born in London, a city she left at sixteen for a hamlet in Somerset. She is the author of This Is The Place To Be, a fragmentary memoir which was published in September 2016 with CB editions. In the Name of the People: Angola’s Forgotten Massacre (IB Tauris, 2014) was her first book. It was nominated for several awards and longlisted for The Orwell Prize 2015. Her commentary, essays and reviews have been published in many places, most recently in the Times Literary Supplement, VersoNew Humanist and Art Review.

‘The Hippy Trail: A History’ with Sharif Gemie
Wednesday 6th December, 7pm
Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase


Dr Sharif Gemie presents his history of the 60s/70s Hippy Trail, and considers the trail in respect to counterculture, drugs, sexual liberation, tourism, pilgrimage and media representation. 

This is the first history of the Hippie Trail. It records the joys and pains of budget travel to Kathmandu, India, Afghanistan and other 'points east' in the 1960s and 1970s. Written in a clear, simple style, it provides detailed analysis of the motivations and the experiences of hundreds of thousands of hippies who travelled eastwards.

The book is structured around four key debates: were the travellers simply motivated by a search for drugs? Did they encounter love or sexual freedom on the road? Were they basically just tourists? Did they resemble pilgrims? It also considers how the travellers have been represented in films, novels and autobiographical accounts.

About the Author

Dr Sharif Gemie is a historian of modern Europe. He has mainly researched on minority peoples, including refugees, Muslims in Europe, Bretons and Galicians. 

‘The Mainstreaming Of The Far-Right’
with Julia Ebner and Paul Stocker
Thursday 7th December, 7pm
Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase

In his book ‘English Uprising Brexit And The Mainstreaming Of The Far-Right’ (Melville House, 2017), Paul Stocker examines how ideas of the far right - always a fringe movement in Britain - have become part of the cultural and political mainstream, especially via a noxious right-wing press, and how these issues are not unique to Britain. Rather, the growth of far-right populism is a Western phenomenon and one with trends which can be witnessed in several European countries, as well as the United States.

He will be in discussion with Julia Ebner, author of ‘The Rage: The Vicious Circle of Islamist and Far Right Extremism’, which explores the interaction between the "new" far right and Islamist extremists and considers the consequences for the global terror threat.

Julia argues that far right and Islamist extremist narratives – "The West is at war with Islam" and "Muslims are at war with the West" - complement each other perfectly, making the two extremes rhetorical allies and building a spiralling torrent of hatred - The Rage. By looking at extremist movements both online and offline, she shows how far right and Islamist extremists have succeeded in penetrating each other's echo chambers as a result of their mutually useful messages.

About the Authors

Julia Ebner is a terrorism and extremism researcher based in London. She is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and a Global Fellow at the Project for the Study of the 21st Century. She spent two years working for the world’s first counter-extremism organisation Quilliam, where she led research projects on terrorism prevention for the European Commission and the Kofi Annan Foundation and gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on far-right extremism. In her role as the coordinator of the pan-European network Families Against Terrorism and Extremism (FATE), she carried out radicalisation prevention projects across Europe and North Africa.

Paul Stocker has a doctorate in British far-right history at Teesside University. Based in the Centre for Fascist, Anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist Studies, he has published research on the history of far-right and fascist movements in Britain from the 1920s until the 1960s. He lives in London and this is his first book.

 

’The Digital Critic: Literary Culture Online’ with Houman Barekat, Joanna Walsh and Robert Barry
Wednesday 10th January, 7pm
Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase

Our guests take stock of the so-called Literary Internet up to the present moment, and considers the future of criticism: its promise, its threats of decline, and its potential mutation, in a world of Facebook likes, Twitter wars, and Amazon book reviews.nbsp;

What do we think of when we think of literary critics? Enlightenment snobs in powdered wigs? Professional experts? Cloistered academics? Through the end of the 20th century, book review columns and literary magazines held onto an evolving but stable critical paradigm, premised on expertise, objectivity, and carefully measured response. And then the Internet happened.

From the editors of Review 31 and 3:AM Magazine, The Digital Critic (OR Books, 2017) brings together a diverse group of perspectives—early-adopters, Internet skeptics, bloggers, novelists, editors, and others—to address the future of literature and scholarship in a world of Facebook likes, Twitter wars, and Amazon book reviews. It takes stock of the so-called Literary Internet up to the present moment, and considers the future of criticism: its promise, its threats of decline, and its mutation, perhaps, into something else entirely.

With contributions from Robert Barry, Russell Bennetts, Michael Bhaskar, Louis Bury, Lauren Elkin, Scott Esposito, Marc Farrant, Orit Gat, Thea Hawlin, Ellen Jones, Anna Kiernan, Luke Neima, Will Self, Jonathon Sturgeon, Sara Veale, Laura Waddell, and Joanna Walsh.

About the Speakers

Houman Barekat reviews for the TLS, Literary Review, the Irish Times, Prospect and the London Magazine, and contributes to online journals including 3:AM, Full Stop and the Los Angeles Review of Books. He is the founder and managing editor of the online literary journal Review 31.

Joana Walsh is a writer and illustrator. Her work has been published by Granta, Tate, The London Review of Books, The White Review and others. Her story collection, Fractals, is published by 3:AM Press

Robert Barry writes for publications such as The Wire, Frieze, The Atlantic Monthly, BBC Music, Fact, The Quietus, Thump, Wired, and Art Review. He is the visual art editor at The Quietus and technology and digital culture editor at Review 31.

’The New Poverty’ with Stephen Armstrong
Wednesday 17th January, 7pm
Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase

We are living in an age with unprecedented levels of poverty. Stephen Armstrong travels across Britain to tell the stories of those who are most vulnerable, betrayed by the retreat of the welfare state and considers what we can do to stop the destruction of our welfare state.

We are living in an age with unprecedented levels of poverty. Who are the new poor? And what can we do about it?

Today 13 million people are living in poverty in the UK. According to a 2017 report, 1 in 5 children live below the poverty line. The new poor, however, are an even larger group than these official figures suggest. They are more often than not in work, living precariously and betrayed by austerity policies that make affordable good quality housing, good health and secure employment increasingly unimaginable.

In The New Poverty investigative journalist Stephen Armstrong travels across Britain to tell the stories of those who are most vulnerable. It is the story of an unreported Britain, abandoned by politicians and betrayed by the retreat of the welfare state. As benefit cuts continue and in-work poverty soars, he asks what long-term impact this will have on post-Brexit Britain and—on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the 1942 Beveridge report—what we can do to stop the destruction of our welfare state.

Reviews

“Armstrong has gone to Wigan to expose a situation with depressing echoes of Orwell’s day: huge inequalities of wealth, comfort and life chances unaddressed by a government composed of distant, unsympathetic plutocrats and public schoolboys … The reasons for this apparent social shift, this new, ugly, public face of a lumpen proletariat Orwell rarely encountered, are many and complex. Most of them are surveyed in this forceful book. It is powerful stuff.” – Stuart Maconie, Guardian

“Back in 1936, Orwell asked why people should live in poverty and despair in one of the richest countries in the world? Now, as this book shows, the cold hand of poverty is back. It is time to ask this government the same question: Why?” – Mirror

“Defines the state of the nation.” – Big Issue

“Stephen Armstrong's The New Poverty is a hard hitting expose of the problems and suffering of people who are at the lower end of the pay scale and therefore at the mercy of those who wish to take advantage. This book is very much in the mould of George Orwell's The Road To Wigan Pier and makes for uneasy, but essential reading.” – Richard Blair, Patron of the Orwell Society

About the Author

Stephen Armstrong is a journalist and author. He writes extensively for the Sunday Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian. He also appears occasionally on Radio 4 and Radio 2. His books include War PLC, The Super-Rich Shall Inherit the Earth and The Road to Wigan Pier Revisited.

’Tear Gas: From the Battlefields of WWI to the Streets of Today’ with Anna Feigenbaum
Wednesday 31st January, 7pm
Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase

An engrossing century-spanning narrative, Tear Gas is the first history of this weapon, and takes us from military labs and chemical weapons expos to union assemblies and protest camps, drawing on declassified reports and witness testimonies to show how policing with poison came to be.

The story of how a chemical weapon went from the battlefield to the streets.

One hundred years ago, French troops fired tear gas grenades into German trenches. Designed to force people out from behind barricades and trenches, tear gas causes burning of the eyes and skin, tearing, and gagging. Chemical weapons are now banned from war zones. But today, tear gas has become the most commonly used form of “less-lethal” police force. In 2011, the year that protests exploded from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street, tear gas sales tripled. Most tear gas is produced in the United States, and many images of protestors in Tahrir Square showed tear gas canisters with “Made in USA” printed on them, while Britain continues to sell tear gas to countries on its own human rights blacklist.

An engrossing century-spanning narrative, Tear Gas (Verso, 2017) is the first history of this weapon, and takes us from military labs and chemical weapons expos to union assemblies and protest camps, drawing on declassified reports and witness testimonies to show how policing with poison came to be.

Reviews

“A vivid history of the time and also - as good radical accounts should be - a source of encouragement to those fighting all too similar battles today” – Hilary Rose

“There is something epic about Anna Feigenbaum’s Tear Gas, its scope and intensity, the way that chemistry — the orienting science of the industrial revolution — provides the material to manage that revolution’s epic collapse . . . There is crucial knowledge to be found here.” – Joshua Clover, author of Riot.Strike.Riot

“A passionately argued history of the development and gradual spread of tear gas around the world . . . a clarion call for reassessment of the widespread availability and misuse of tear gas.” – Patrick Wicklen, Researcher on Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International

“Fascinating, deeply researched and lucid . . . We have become so accustomed to the use of tear gas during protests that it comes as a shock when we realize, in reading this book, how little we know about the longer-term effects of what is in some ways a chemical weapon.” – Laleh Khalili, author of Time in the Shadows

About the Author

Anna Feigenbaum is co-author of the book Protest Camps, and her work has appeared in Vice, The Atlantic, Al Jazeera America, The Guardian, Salon, Financial Times, Open Democracy, New Internationalist, and Waging Nonviolence. She is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Media and Communication at Bournemouth University. Her website is www.annafeigenbaum.com. Follow her on Twitter: @drfigtree.


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